Bill Nolan

Owner of Nolan Hospitality (NH)

NH is Bill's food focused company based in Darien, IL specializing in group presentations, cooking classes, food photography, marketing for farmers and vendors, and general consulting. Bill believes in scratch cooking and healthy food whenever possible.

Bill has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and education industries. He received his culinary training at Elgin Community College’s School of Hospitality Management, where he served as a chef-educator on the adjunct faculty after graduation. Bill volunteers as a chef instructor at Wellness House in Hinsdale, IL. and is also a volunteer chef mentor with Fox Valley Food for Health, in Geneva, IL.

Simon Majumdar

Simon is a cook, author and broadcaster who has dedicated the second half of his time on this planet to fulfilling his ambition to "Go Everywhere, Eat Everything." It is a journey that has taken him to all fifty states and to dozens of countries around the world. He has written three books: "Eat My Globe," "Eating for Britain," and his third book, "Fed, White and Blue," which catalogs his journey to American citizenship, was published by Avery Press (an imprint of Penguin Books) in 2015. Simon is also a well-recognized personality on the Food Network, regularly appearing on shows such as Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, The Next Iron Chef, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Extreme Chef and Beat Bobby Flay. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on National Geographic's major series “EAT:The Story of Food.” He lives in Los Angeles.

Paula Robison

Director, Global Client Group, American Express Global Business Travel

Paula’s passion for the hospitality industry is evident in her work of over 20 years with Share Our Strength/Taste of the Nation, when she served as a Marketing Director and Event Facilitator.  She continued such work with San Diego Taste of the Nation events as a Marketing Committee Member. Throughout her tenure with American Express Paula lead the launch of their prepaid programs with an entrepreneurial spirit that gave her the focus and flexibility to grow a new business and brand within the organization. Paula is focused on expanding her knowledge of wine and spirits and as such has achieved the WSET Level 3 Award.  She enthusiastically volunteers for both SommCon® and the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival each year.

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Ellen Chen & Mario Del Pero

Co-Founders, Mendocino Farms

While in his twenties Mario created Skew’s Teriyaki, one of the first Fast Casual Asian concepts. After graduating with a degree in economics from UCSD, Ellen became a consultant for the prestigious Accenture Consulting firm, facilitating growth initiatives for Fortune 100 companies. She honed her business acumen at the marketing firm of Suissa Miller and dot-com start-up Target Marketing Interactive. Ellen Chen later met Mario and invested in Skew's Teriyaki. Together they grew Skew's to three units in Los Angeles before selling the company in 2001. Armed with a good idea and lots of passion  they created Mendocino Farms and opened their first unit on Bunker Hill, Downtown Los Angeles in 2005. Since then Mendocino Farms restaurants have opened in 12 locations in Los Angeles and Orange County, becoming some of the most loved and highest grossing sales per foot restaurants in the neighborhoods they serve.

Our Team

Kelly Lam 

Founder of The Whole Purpose (TWP)

TWP is A company that offers individuals and corporations an innovative approach to physical and emotional wellbeing through Mindful Wellness and Purposeful Communication.

After many years in the corporate world, Kelly realized the vital need for healthy and balanced wellness solutions. Through her first-hand experience, she has brought ‘whole’ solutions to various global corporations. With many years in the wellness and nutrition sector, Kelly is a seasoned consultant and teacher of yoga, nutrition and health programs designed to achieve optimal wellbeing. Kelly is an active philanthropist and serves as a board member for several non-profits and organizations including Project Hope Alliance, The Center for Living Peace and the Hoag Hospital’s Woman’s Committee.

Pamela Waitt, Treasurer

President, Co-founder, OC Restaurant Association 

The objective of the OC Restaurant Association, Inc. is to illuminate the Orange County restaurant industry.  Pam Waitt is best known for launching “Orange County Restaurant Week” in 2008 which is the region’s most celebrated dining event and brings the county together through food. She is known for her visionary spirit and leadership abilities along with a commitment to bringing people together through food.  Pam is the executive producer and creator of the Golden Foodie Awards. The association is also the company behind the Pacific Wine and Food Festival. Pam believes that food has power and connects us all. She enjoys creating innovative, fun events that appeal to all palates.

Christine van Rooy

NCIDQ, Chairman VANROOY design, LLC., Managing Principal

Christine van Rooy’s has dedicated her career to the development and success of bars and restaurants. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Christine started in hospitality at age 15. After receiving her Architectural Design degree, Christine specialized in the development of new hospitality concepts on an international scale; including restaurants, boutique hotels, nightclubs, and casinos. She gained valuable experience working with recognized restaurant and bar corporations including Hillstone Restaurant Group, J. Alexanders, MGM International, The Venetian/Sands Corporation. Drawing from this broad base, Christine creates highly rational and energetic design concepts that embrace both the practical and aesthetic requirements of her clients.

Valerie Christopherson

Founder and CEO Global Results Communications, Inc. 

As CEO and Founder of Global Results Communications (GRC), Valerie is responsible for client strategy, growth and profitability of GRC plus international operations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Over her 20-year career in the mobile and technology industries she has provided strategic counsel and campaign management to a wide range of successful public relations and social media programs on behalf of major trade associations, Fortune 500 companies, and start-ups. Prior to founding GRC in 2005, Valerie worked with mobile, telecom and technology clients while at Porter Novelli Convergence Group. Valerie also spent time in-house at QUALCOMM as well as working for niche agencies centered on global clients. Valerie holds a B.A. in Communications focused on public relations and B.A. in English.

Justine Hunter

Restaurant National Practice Leader for Moss Adams

Justine has served the restaurant industry for over 30 years—Previously a partner with Ernst & Young, she has extensive experience managing multiple client service relationships that include audit and tax services (including cost-efficient first-time audits going back two to three years), assistance with purchase price allocations, and accounting interpretations for transactions with private equity firms. She has worked with many restaurant concepts from 5 locations to over 1000 locations, specializing in audit and due diligence and buy/sell transactions.

Judy Walker, Founder & CEO of Golden Rule Charity

Judy began her career in hospitality at the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa where she spent 9 years. From there she transferred to The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel as the Social Catering Manager. With a love for learning and assisting others, Walker transferred and spent the next two years in Training and Development. Ready to tackle the next challenge, Walker accepted a position with the California Restaurant Association as the Executive Director of the Educational Foundation.

Judy spent the last 11 years working for Share Our Strength and the No Kid Hungry Campaign as Director of Market Development, before deciding to set up her own nonprofit in 2016, and called it Golden Rule Charity. Having observed the hardships faced by those in her industry when they fall on hard times, Judy wished to use her expertise to support these hardworking members of the community. Walker lives in Laguna Niguel with her husband and 2 year old Jack Russell.

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Chef Rob Wilson

Executive Chef of  Montage, Laguna Beach

Wilson joined Montage in 2010 to oversee culinary operations with an emphasis on special events. As Executive Chef he manages day-to-day operations in the main kitchens, ensuring the best quality products are used on every menu.

Chef Wilson has had an extensive culinary background following his graduation from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), New York. His culinary path has included time at Surf and Sand Resort, also in Laguna Beach, where he worked as a Sous Chef. Eventually he went on to be co-owner and Executive
Chef of Cervino’s in Mammoth Lakes. Prior to joining Montage, Chef Wilson spent 13 years with The Ritz Carlton company, most recently
serving as Executive chef at their location in Laguna Niguel.  He was named “Chef of the Year” in 2008 by Chef Magazine.